My current setup is running two ATI HD 5850 in Crossfire mode. But my motherboard is Asus P7P55D (LGA 1156) running those cards in x16/x4 mode. I am able to sell the current components and get the following setup. I use my PC primarily for gaming. Can you please suggest the best option? I am sure this was discussed, but the motherboard I am going to mention is newer.
CPU choices -
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T or 1090T
AMD Phenom II X4 965 or 970
AsRock 890FX Deluxe5
8GB Kingston DDR-1600.
My specific questions
1) Do I need those extra cores?
2) Is it worth giving up on hyperthreading that I currently have in i7?
3) Will I benefit from the jump from x4 to x16 on the second PCIe rail for Crossfire?
4) Some CPU benchmarks show that X4 965 is actually scoring less than i7-860, why?
5) Is it a worth exchange for purely gaming purposes?
Honestly, It's not worth upgrading at this moment. You have a rig that should do just fine at the moment.
1. Right now, most games cannot utilize more than 4 cores. Some can, but you won't see a significant increase in performance. Quad's are in the sweet spot right now.
2. I say keep the i7. It works just fine for now correct?
3. The difference between 16x and 4x is not very big, especially with 5850's. You might see a 6% performance gain at most.
4. The 965 is frankly not much better than the i7. They trade blows, but the i7's HT pushes it over the edge.
5. The short answer is no. The rig you have right now is just fine. If you DO upgrade, wait a year or so for the Intel E series or Ivy bridge.
Those are my thoughts. Hope it helps you out!
Thanks for a detailed response. About your fourth point, many people have different opinions of course. Some say that hyperthreading is useless. In my case, I don't really use the PC to the extent that hyperthreading will be beneficial. I only play games and surf internet. The thought of a better motherboard than P7P55D has lured me into this, and also the pretty much no-loss deal financially. I can always get a X6 for slightly more money but I completely agree that no games today use even four cores optimally and by the time they do, I won't be playing games! I think it is more than a "wanting something different and new looking" than "need those cores man!" for me. I have used AMD processors a lot in the past and in my opinion they work really well. Even if it is not an upgrade technically, I'd be okay. But the other answer says that it is a downgrade but without much reasoning. Can that be explained better?
Well as it turns out, the i7-860 does in fact perform better in almost every task. Here's a benchy: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/102?vs=108
As you can see, the i7 consistently outpaces the 965. I'm an AMD fanboy, but i'm forced to admit that Intel is dominating!
My opinion is, wait until AMD's Bulldozer. It's a few weeks out, and will probably wreck anything that's out now.
"Ivy is to be 20% faster than Sandy and HARD TO BELIEVE statements say Bulldozer is 30% beyond that."
The few unproven/'leaked' benchmarks of BD's performance pitted an 8 core BD against an i7-2600k; however, given a benchmark that simply scales nicely upwards 50-75% with each extra core, unlike real games/applications, the real battle will be 4 core Zambezi vs. i5-2500k/2600k, using actual games under Win7.
Under Win7, short of heavy multitasking, I'd be surprised if the 4 core Zambezi does not outperfrom the 8 core models (clock for clock), due to OS overhead. Perhaps Win8 might hange this, allowing better scaling.
My rest of the system specs are OCZ 8gb gold memory, 650W corsair supply, X-Fi sound card, 22" samsung screen, and mainly two 5850 running in x16/x4 crossfire mode. It is exactly for this reason I am willing to take a slight hit for CPU performance if there is going to be any. I do no music production or encoding/decoding or photo shop. I play games, and I record music via X-Fi (from my musical keyboard).
Like I said above, it is more about "wanting something new" than a need. Financially it is more like an exchange. I really liked the board specifications (ASRock 890FX Deluxe5) hoping they actually work. And since AM3+ socket doesn't tell the same story as LGA 1156, I am thinking of buying AMD. The best they have today is X6 1100T and I can't afford it. I can do 975 at the best with that board. But 965 is ridiculously cheap these days and thus thinking of making the switch.
I have heard mixed opinions. Some say gaming system built with these specifications will perform equally with i7-860 based, if not better, because now the two graphics cards will be running electrically x16.
This is just my opinion, but I don't think it's worth it. If you want to make a switch, at least wait for bulldozer if only for the price drops. You have a very capable system, and unless you can sell the parts for cash right now I suggest holding onto it.